Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Mary Delach Leonard

Work/Life Reporter

Mary Delach Leonard is a veteran journalist who joined St. Louis Public Radio in December 2013 when it merged with the St. Louis Beacon. She had been a reporter for the Beacon since April 2008 -- after a 17-year career at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where she was a reporter and an editor in the features section. Her work has been cited for awards by such organizations as the Missouri Associated Press Managing Editors, the Missouri Press Association and the Illinois Press Association. In 2010, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis honored her with a Spirit of Justice Award in recognition of her work on the housing crisis. Leonard began her newspaper career at the Belleville News-Democrat (in Illinois) after earning a degree in mass communications from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, where she now serves as an adjunct faculty member. She is partial to pomeranians and Cardinals.

Ways to Connect

The intersection of Collinsville and St. Louis avenues in East St. Louis is where a mob of white rioters first gathered before they rampaged through the city, seeking out and killing black residents.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Andrew Theising was sitting behind the steering wheel of his car, pointing out the pathways of city streets that vanished long ago beneath a parking lot in downtown East St. Louis.

“This is where the homes were burned,’’ he said, solemnly. “This is where African-Americans were hung from the streetlights. This was the height of the violence and the bloodshed.’’

A family flees violence in East St. Louis following the 1917 race riots.
Courtesy of East St. Louis 1917 Centennial Commission and Cultural Initiative

The social, economic and political factors that led to the deadly East St. Louis race riots 100 years ago will be examined at a conference that begins Friday. 

The point is to educate people about the riots while beginning an ongoing conversation about what the region still faces today, said the Rev. Joseph Brown, chairman of the East St. Louis 1917 Centennial Commission.

The Goldenrod Showboat took on about 7 feet of water when the Illinois River flooded near Kampsville, Illinois, in early May 2017.
Historic Riverboat Preservation Association

Illinois River floodwater has drained from the hull of the Goldenrod Showboat, along with any lingering optimism that the century-old vessel can be saved, according to the preservation group that owns it.

“There’s no glimmer of hope,’’ said Jacob Medford, vice president of the nonprofit Historic Riverboat Preservation Association. “We’ve tried our best with the Goldenrod, but not everything works out exactly how you want it. But we gave it our all.”

Renovations have given Kiener Plaza a more open and greener look. May 2017
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louisans will get their first peek at Kiener Plaza’s lush new gardens, splash pad and colorful playground when the downtown park reopens at noon Friday.

The bronze statue of The Runner is back and selfie-ready, with a new fountain and LED lighting that can change colors to mark holidays and special events, like Cardinals-playoff red and Stanley Cup-blue.

The Vietnam War memorial in Wentzville has been expanded and now includes lighting and landscaping. May 2017
Provided by city of Wentzville

The city of Wentzville will cut the ribbon on an updated memorial to Vietnam War veterans at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The city recently expanded the memorial site and added landscaping, lights, and a ramp, so disabled veterans can visit. The memorial is at 209 W. Pearce Blvd., next to the fire department.

Stones painted with ladybugs and hearts now mark the affected headstones. A little girl in Florida painted the stones. May 2017
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Executive director Anita Feigenbaum is standing in the rain, amid repaired headstones at Chesed Shel Emeth, the historic Jewish cemetery in University City that made international headlines last February after vandals knocked over 154 grave markers.

“Starting here, you would just see rows knocked down,’’ Feigenbaum said, pointing from beneath her umbrella. “There’s an example of a monument that was totally knocked down. And broken.”

The historic Goldenrod Showboat is currently docked near Kampsville, Ill.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 4:30 p.m., May 8, 2017 — The historic Goldenrod Showboat is sinking in the flood-swollen Illinois River, near Kampsville, Illinois, according to the nonprofit group that's been fighting for years to preserve it.

A stretch of old Route 66 pavement near Mount Olive, Illinois.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, is on a road trip in Illinois this week to highlight legislative efforts to designate Route 66 as a National Historic Trail.

Davis kicked off a two-day publicity tour at the Wildey Theater in Edwardsville Tuesday morning, where he talked about the historical and economic significance of the Mother Road. He’s also co-sponsoring legislation in the U.S. House to establish a national commission to celebrate the centennial of the storied roadway that opened America’s West to cross-country travel in 1926.

Dipstick the goat chomps away on honeysuckle at Willoughby Heritage Farm in Collinsville. April 2017
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

“What can we do about the massive spread of bush honeysuckle? It spreads greatly and destroys ground-level wildflowers.”

That was the question the Rev. James Brobst of Belleville recently put to Curious Louis.

Missouri History Museum

One hundred years ago, on April 6, 1917, the United States entered World War I.

To mark the occasion, several thousand people will attend a national commemoration in Kansas City, home to the National World War I Museum and Memorial.

In St. Louis, an exhibit opens today at the Missouri History Museum. It focuses on the role St. Louisans played — on the battlefield and the home front.

The grounds crew prepares the field at Busch Stadium for the Cardinals home opener on Sunday night. Photo was taken on March 29, 2017.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 10 p.m. Friday, March 31, with details of pregame ceremony.

Sorry, Cardinals fans. There’s no reason to sneak out of work early to celebrate Opening Day in St. Louis this year.

Instead of the usual Monday afternoon game, the Cardinals will open their 2017 season against the Chicago Cubs, their National League division rivals, on Sunday in a nationally televised game that starts at 7:35 p.m. at Busch Stadium.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

If you look at a map of the Normandy area, three large splotches of green space stand out amid the patchwork of small municipalities that make up this chunk of north St. Louis County.

They’re golf courses, and they date back to the early 1900s.

Wikipedia

St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson has given members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians a special dispensation to allow them to eat corned beef with their cabbage on Friday, but most Catholics in the archdiocese will be required to abstain from meat on this Lenten St. Patrick’s Day.

Brian Stover's front yard is directly across U.S. 51 from the Patoka Tank Farm.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Brian Stover raises chickens at his house in rural Marion County, Illinois, just across the road from the Patoka Tank Farm where the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline ends — about 75 miles east of St. Louis.

Richie Camden and Dominic Rekart take the Breakaway Siberians dog sled team  out for a practice run on the Katy Trail near Weldon Spring, Mo., in January 2017.
Maren Leonard

It’s just after sunup on the Katy Trail in Weldon Spring, and musher Richie Camden is unloading his dog sledding equipment on the trailhead parking lot.

As he carries leads and adjusts harnesses, 11 blue-eyed Siberian huskies and one brown-eyed Gordon setter watch his every move through the truck windows.

Impatiently.

Nanook begins the whining. Jared the setter joins in with an excited bark. Soon, there’s a whole chorus of howls, ranging from baritone to soprano, echoing through the morning quiet.

Sign at the entrance to Cahokia Mounds Jan. 20, 2017
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Conservationists working to make Cahokia Mounds in Collinsville a unit of the National Park Service say they will continue their efforts under the new administration of President Donald Trump.

Staffers with the nonprofit HeartLands Conservancy had hoped that former President Barack Obama would declare Cahokia Mounds a national monument before leaving office on Friday, but that didn't happen.

Ed Weilbacher, vice president of HeartLands, says an executive order by Obama would have fast-tracked the process, but he said the effort will continue. He noted that local congressional leaders support the possibility of legislative action to bring the site into the national park system.

The Delta Queen is in dry dock in Houma, La.
Photo provided by Delta Queen Steamboat Company

Legislation that would enable the owners of the Delta Queen to return the historic steamboat to cruise service on the Mississippi River has been reintroduced by Missouri’s U.S. senators.

About 1 million passengers come through Lambert airport every month. Photo taken in December 2016.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Visitors to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport can expect to see signs with the airport’s new name sometime in late January. The change will flip the name of airport founder Albert Bond Lambert with the name of the city — to St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

Airport director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge said the goal is to emphasize the airport’s geographic location — which will help in marketing and outreach efforts — while continuing to recognize the legacy of Lambert who started the airport nearly 100 years ago.

St. Louis residents will probably notice little change when they go to the airport because fewer signs will be affected than people might expect, she said.

Photo courtesy of Missouri History Museum

Every month, a million passengers come through the St. Louis airport named for Albert Bond Lambert. Most have no clue who Lambert was — and that includes people from St. Louis.

According to a survey conducted for the airport a year ago, only 17 of 600 respondents correctly identified the connection between Lambert and the airport.

Holiday decorations in the parlor of the Field House include an 1870s Christmas tree made of goose feathers. December 2016.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

The Eugene Field House reopens Thursday with a 4,000-square-foot addition for museum exhibits that supporters hope will spark renewed interest in the historic site that’s just a baseball’s throw from Busch Stadium.

Dred Scott's grave is one of the most frequently visited graves at Calvary Cemetery. This photos was taken in November 2016.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Why aren’t Dred Scott and his wife buried in the same cemetery?

Pamela Richardson posed that question to Curious Louis recently after a visit to Calvary Cemetery in north St. Louis, where Dred Scott is buried.

“I wondered, ‘Is she not buried with him — and why not?’ I had been to Calvary many times. I had seen his place of rest, but her name was not on the tombstone,’’ said Richardson, who has family members buried at the cemetery.

St. Louis native Sean Gunn as Kirk in the "Gilmore Girls." The pig is named Petal.
Netflix

If actor Sean Gunn isn’t out promoting the Netflix reboot of the “Gilmore Girls,’’ which premieres on Friday, you might find him at a comic book convention meeting fans of the film “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” which will be released in May.

The two projects meant months of commuting between the West and East coasts for the 42-year-old St. Louis native who follows Cardinals baseball wherever he is and admits to liking both Imo’s and Pi pizza. And, yes, he went to high school here — St. Louis University High.

Preservation lab technician Rebecca Thorn pieces together fragments of a fire-damaged record at the National Personnel Records Center in November 2016
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Archivist Marta O’Neill was standing inside a warehouse-sized storage bay at the cavernous National Personnel Records Center, just off interstate 270 in north St. Louis County.

Nearly 60 million individual military personnel records are stored at the site, but this storage bay is unique. It houses only B-files: the 6.5 million records salvaged from the 1973 fire at the center’s old facility on Page Avenue. That fire destroyed the records of 18 million veterans who served in World War I, World War II and the Korean War.

St. Louis Public Radio reporter Mary Delach Leonard weighed the postcards mailed to her home in Madison County by Ill. state representative candidates Dwight Kay (R) and Katie Stuart (D), 112th district. They weigh 4 1/2 pounds.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio.

Whether you’re in a blue state, red state, happy or fed-up state, it’s all over, except for the recycling.

Yes, it’s time to make a clean sweep of the election flyers and door hangers.

The campaign yard signs and banners.

The political postcards that stuffed your mailbox every doggone day.

A sign in the window at the downtown office directs veterans to the new benefits office at 9700 Page Ave. in Overland on Monday, Nov. 7, 2016
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

The VA is still working to get the word out to veterans that its regional benefits office has moved from downtown St. Louis to the Prevedel Federal Building at 9700 Page Ave. in Overland.

The VA closed its offices at 400 S. 18th St. on Friday afternoon and reopened Monday morning at the Overland location.  It was a massive move involving about 800 employees, along with representatives of Veterans Service Organizations like the American Legion, the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Deer visit the SIU-Edwardsville campus.
Pete Burzynski | Flickr | 2007

Madison County leads the state in vehicle crashes involving deer, and November is the most at-risk month for such accidents, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Eight people died, and more than 600 were injured in 2015 in 15,754 vehicle-deer accidents in the state. Nearly 45 percent of those crashes occurred in October, November and December. There were 440 accidents in Madison County followed by Cook County with 431. By comparison, St. Clair County reported 212 crashes involving deer.

These Trolls didn't hang out on the internet. Part of a toys exhibit at the Missouri History Museum opening Oct. 29, 2016.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio.

An exhibit opening Saturday at the Missouri History Museum offers a peek into the toy chests of baby boomers:

* There are Slinkies and Mr. Potato Heads.

* Roy Rogers figurines and first-edition Barbie dolls.

* Lionel train sets and Betsy McCall paper dolls.

These are the toys that entertained children before the Information Age — when games were played on colorful boards with dice, not touch screens. And Trolls were glass-eyed with wild hair and didn’t lurk on social media.

Local community leaders say a new website devoted to the Mississippi River will boost tourism up and down the river.

They gathered Wednesday at the National Great Rivers Museum in Alton to celebrate the launch of the Mississippi River Geotourism MapGuide, a website that highlights river towns, attractions and businesses. The project, which took more than two years to complete, is a partnership between National Geographic Maps, the National Park Service, the Army Corps of Engineers and regional organizations like the Mississippi River Connections Collaborative and the Meeting of the Rivers Foundation.

Charlie Hoessle helped start the St. Louis Zoo's education department in the 1960s.
Courtesy of St. Louis Zoo

For St. Louisans of a certain age, the statue outside the herpetarium at the St. Louis Zoo depicts a familiar figure: Charles H. Hoessle — better known as “Charlie” — who taught them about snakes and exotic reptiles when they were schoolchildren in the 1960s.

Hoessle worked for the zoo for 40 years. He helped start the zoo's education department in 1964 and hosted the weekly “Saint Louis Zoo Show’’ on local TV from 1968 to 1978.

Provided by VA St. Louis Health Care System

Updated 4:30 p.m., Sept. 23, with new director announcement.

Keith Repko has been appointed as permanent director of the VA St. Louis Health Care System. He had been serving as interim director since January.

The appointment was announced Friday afternoon by the VA.

Repko is well-known at the St. Louis VA, where he's worked since 1991. Before his promotion as acting director, he served as a deputy director.  

Our previous story:

The eighth interim director to lead the VA St. Louis Health Care System is Keith Repko, who has been deputy director of the agency for more than a year.

Repko says he will continue to focus on improving access to health care for area veterans.

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